Andy Fish’s new graphic novel, “Fly: A True Story Completely Made Up” is a dark comic tale about a grotesque but sincere little fellow who wishes he could fly. It’s not that simple a story, though — Fish takes his readers on a journey through Fly’s self doubts and doomed love life, implicating him in the woes of others and blaming him for his own, all with unlikely doses of affection and laughs
Earlier this year, Fish released the equally grim and delicious The Tragic Tale of Turkey Boy: An American Love Story, the tale of a dead celebrity and his biggest fan.
“Turkey Boy is a little bit darker and little more cynical than Fly,” said Fish. “Fly is a much more likable character. I don’t think he killed anybody intentionally.”
ImageFish publishes his work under the banner of Undercoverfish, his own self-publishing imprint that allows him to fulfill his creative desires as well as apply his business degree alongside his schooling at the School of Visual Arts in New York City and the Rhode Island School of Design.
“When you do it yourself, the freedom’s there,” Fish said. “You have to have somebody who can edit you, otherwise it can be a rambling mess, which sometimes still happens anyway. I just think the freedom of doing it yourself, you just can’t beat it.”
For Fish, those editors come in several forms — friends, his partner Veronica Hebard and even his mother.
“She’s pretty harsh,” he says of Mom. “Sometimes I can’t take her criticism.”
Fish’s attraction to darkness — and his energetic approach to work — has him already working on a couple of follow-ups to Fly. One is a proposed 500-page graphic novel adaptation of Dracula that reinterprets the original book and puts lesser characters in a whole new light — it focuses on young vampire hunter Jonathan Harker and his partner, the better known Van Helsing.
“Dracula is one of the most dry, most boring reads I have ever forced my way through,” said Fish. “It’s brutal, it’s like Moby Dick. I’m trying to come at it from a different angle: that while all this was going on and Harker and Van Helsing are staking all these vampires, the problem is that once they stake them, they are no longer vampires. The cops are finding these bodies with stakes in them and thinking that they are crazed serial killers on the loose and they’re being hunted down while they’re trying to hunt down Dracula.”
Fish is also trying his hand at one of the most legendary comic book characters there is — Batman. He’s creating the one-shot Batman 1939, which pulls heavily from the character’s earliest appearances in order to document his transformation from a murderous vigilante into a more humane hero. Fish says that it starts out extremely dark and violent, but is also very true to the character.
“I went through the stories and made a list in a notebook and put a skull every time he killed somebody,” Fish said. “I was amazed. He killed 70 people in a book, it was ridiculous. It was a different era.”
If Fish has his way, he’ll get to do follow-ups, including Batman 1940, which would see the arrival of Robin, and Batman 1966, which would explore the Adam West interpretation of the character and would introduce humor into the mix. Fish sees Batman’s longevity as due to malleability that helps him to reflect any era. He plans to use that and present the character as a creature of reality who wears a baggy fencing outfit instead of tights and a bulletproof cape that proves too heavy to allow him to jump from building to building. It’s just another method of examining the storytelling styles that have helped the character endure over decades.
“We’re taking on a lot of real world stuff — what happens when he has to go to the bathroom, what happens when he gets hungry,” said Fish. “I read some of the 1930s comics and it’s great — he follows a guy through the streets and he says, ‘I’ll check up on him after I get a bite to eat.’ That’s just hilarious, you don’t see that anymore.”
Andy Fish’s two graphic novels for 2008, The Tragic Tale Of Turkey Boy: An American Love Story, and Fly: A True Story Completely Made Up, are available at bookstores world-wide and on Amazon.com. Learn more about Andy at his website, hebsandfish.com.